Marine patrol units hit the waters the weekend to enforce laws, social distancing

As boaters hit the water this Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement will be right alongside them making sure everyone stays safe.

“We’re also going to be out here making sure, whether it’s a jet ski or any type of boat, that operators are following the rules of the waterways,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “I think this is going to be the busiest weekend ever. We’ve been seen boating traffic increase by the weekend especially during COVID-19.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, boat sales have skyrocketed as more people find new ways to enjoy the outdoors.

But for law enforcement, that means crowded waterways and more inexperienced captains. 

“Be aware that there’s going to be someone out there who’s not as experienced as you are,” Chronister warned.  “And you’re expecting them to behave a certain way and they’re not going to. So I think you have to be an extremely defensive boat operator out here.”

For those on patrol, safety is a top priority, which includes social distancing this year.

“There may be 2,000 boats around Egmont Key and it’s beautiful, that’s why we live in Tampa, but you have to maintain that social distance and we’re going to be enforcing that,” Chronister said.

The sheriff said being responsible is part of staying safe. Last week’s fatal accident on the water proving just how fast things can go wrong. 

“We only have to look back to last week and realize that we lost a 12-year-old and we’re going to be out here again in full force to make sure we can do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy like that from happening this holiday weekend,” Chronister explained.